Albert Tompkins

Remembrance: Albert Tompkins

There’s a different atmosphere around Elm Drive School these days; someone is missing. That someone is Albert Tompkins, who died on Feb. 20, suddenly, at the age of 50, from complications that arose from surgery.

Aside from leaving behind his beloved son, Billy, and other family, he also leaves behind the people who loved him at all four schools in the Millbrook Central School District (MCSD). His main workplace was at Elm Drive School, but as Senior Custodian he was responsible for all of the schools, a matter he took seriously and he put his heart into every project he took on, usually going above and beyond expectations.

Stephen Cabello, principal of the Millbrook Middle School, said, “Albert was an amazing man. I saw him every day across the hall and he always had a smile on his face. He was always ready to laugh off the problem of the day and get to work by finding a solution together.

“When it came to upkeep of our buildings, I can honestly say I have never worked with anyone who had such incredible vision and follow through. Whether it was transforming every blackboard into a whiteboard in the middle school, using a new and innovative technology, or connecting the PTO, NJHS, and MMS to build, paint and install reader’s mailboxes here at MMS and in town, Albert always had a plan on how to make MCSD better.

“He always said the same thing when he took anything on. ‘It’s for the kids right? Let’s do it!’”

School Superintendent Caroline Hernandez Pidala shared that during COVID, on most days, Albert was the only other person she’d see.

“He looked in on me every morning and say goodnight at the end of each lonely day,” she said. “He never forgot others, that’s who Albert was. He had a smiling face that he wore each day along with his cowboy hat.

“Inside that presentation of a man was a deep soul,” she continued. “And his hands shaped much of our district with his craftsmanship. This has been a tremendous loss to the district.”

Keith Russell, PE teacher at Elm Drive, said, “I have had the privilege to be a co-worker of Albert since he joined the district 32 years ago. His family has a long and distinguished service record with the MCSD.

“I worked with his father Bill for many years as he served on the maintenance and facility team here; as a young teacher I quickly learned Bill was the guy to go to if I needed something done.

“When Albert joined the district, I had only been here about 4 or 5 years, so we served together here for the majority of my career. When his dad retired Albert was the one I knew I could count on for whatever was needed, as did the rest of the staff.

“Albert was always smiling. And he always had something to say that would make me laugh.”

Julie Ruuge, secretary to the principal at Alden Place Elementary and CSEA unit vice president, said, “I have known Albert for 32 years. He was a very close friend of mine, like a brother,” she said. “As a friend, I could call him any time and ask his advice, ask for a joke to make me laugh, or ask for help and he was there.

“He was a loyal friend. I miss him. I will continue to work hard for everyone in my life that I can, because he was the kind of person I want to be.”

All contributions to his memory should be made to The Millbrook Educational Foundation, P.O. Box 453, Millbrook, NY 12545.

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